I am a….
Recently,a friend of mine wrote an article here about me and some of my friends who preach the Gospel on the streets. In it, he posted a picture not wanting to ‘out’ me or embarras me. I call him my friend because he is a fellow Pastor and the first guy that I open air preached with using the ‘Way of the Master” promoted by Ray Comfort. What this means is that we proclaim the law to the proud and grace to the humble.
His article caused me no small upset, because it came from a friend who seems genuinely concerned about me and my methods. My desire is to speak to him and the people who know me and my ministry.
I am first and foremost a Christian. I do not wear that badge lightly, nor do I wear it on my sleeve. That identity consumes my entire being, it is who I am through and through. There is no division of secular and sacred in me, I walk and talk and breathe as a Christian, for it is in Christ that I live and I breathe and I have my being. He is my purpose for living, my first thought as I arise in the morning and my last thought as I go to bed at night. I want my entire life to represent him, everything that I do and in all my dealings with people. The people who really know me and who are around me will testify to that, both those in my family, my friends, my co-workers, and those in my church. When I fall, I pray that I am willing to take correction, and when I am right I pray that I am gracious. I want to grow more like my Lord and master every day. In saying this, I give no glory to myself, for it is only in Christ that I have anything of value, and only by the power of the Holy Spirit that I can serve Him.
I am a husband second. My role as a husband is to love my wife like Jesus loved the church. My marriage is a display for the world to see if I am becoming more Christlike.[ It is a testimony of Christ and the church. My wife is my mirror that shows me in truth if I look like Jesus or not. I have failed in my role as a husband, but by the grace of God we have been restored time and time again. I strive by the power of the Holy Spirit to live with my wife in an understanding way.
I am a father, the shepherd of my home. I have been blessed with four wonderful children that, by the grace of God, have all chosen to follow Christ. Even in my younger years as a father not being the best or most consistent in discipline, God in His grace has had them by His drawing choose to follow Him.My children have been witnesses in the public schools which they have attended in their behavior and with their words. By the grace of God they have chosen good friends, and have even shown compassion on not so good friends in sharing the good news with them. I am a proud father, but I know that if it were not for Christ my children would not be following Him.
I am a Church planting pastor. In our church plant, I am responsible to the Lord Jesus for the sheep He has placed under my care. In our church, as Pastor, I preach the whole counsel of God. I do not back down on important truths about Him. I teach them so that they can be built up and equipped to use their gifts to serve the Lord. When I preach, I preach with passion, and with compassion for the family of believers that I love so much. I strive not to leave anything out no matter how hard it is sometimes. My messages are bourne out of study and prayer and are driven home in my Spirit and life first so the Lord can communicate through a broken vessel. I am gentle yet firm. truthful yet tolerant. I preach with a holy fire, knowing that being a teacher I incur a stricter judgment, and that I must present God in truth to my people that I will be held accountable for. I am an undershepherd, and I do not want to behave as a hireling.
I am an evangelist, a prophet of God bringing the truth of the Gospel to a lost and dying generation. Before I preach I pray that God would through me reach someone. When I preach on the campus, I pray that lost people would repent and believe the Gospel. I pray that the Christians on campus would awake from their slumber and return top their first love and that a revival would break out on campus. Then I preach God to dying men as a dead man. I am dead to myself, and I am proclaiming with tears the truth of sinners perishing in Hell is they are not changed by the glorious Gospel of Christ. It is not easy, the things I must proclaim. But the reality is with my campus preaching ministry is that I am preaching to wicked sinners (as I once was) lost and dying in their sin. I am, by the power of the Holy Spirit, trying to pull them back from the flames. I am turning the blind man around from a certain doom should he or she step off this earth without Christ. In the cities where I preach, it is the same approach. I start with scripture, proclaiming the truth of God, sharing the law, warning people that if they step out of this world without Christ they are doomed. I weep and plead with sinners, because I know that God is a judge. I know that they are, as I once was, oblivious to the fact that God is a judge, because they are confident in their goodness, or they are apathetic, or simply unbelieving. I do not preach on the streets in the same way that I do in the church; for those in the streets many do not attend a church or will ever darken the door of one. Why do I do this? Because God saved a sex freak, pot-head, idolatrous, God-hating, alcoholic, wrathful person like me. Woe is me if I do not share the good news that God in His mercy and grace can save anyone. I do not preach out of a sense of pride, rather it is a sense of humility- were it not for the grace of God, I would be in the same condition! I do not preach for self fulfuillment, for more often than not, it is a thankless task other than the joy that God brings. I do not preach because it is easy, for it is the hardest thing to do to tell the truth when it can and often does bring about anger and hatred.
My methodology is to preach the truth in love. My friend Jerry says in regard to my sign:
If you look closely you will see on the right side of the sign that “evolutionists” is in fact being spelled “evilustionists.” How is calling someone evil, who mistakingly believes in evolution, a display of love? Or how about where it says “porn freaks” and “sex freaks” – is this really love? Many of those I know who struggle with porn or sexual perversions want desperately to get free from these chains. This is twisting God’s Law into something it was never meant to be. And my wife, Sara, points out that they are generally not “freaks” either, but rather they are simply everyday people who have gone a bit off course.
It is a display of love, Jerry, because it is telling the truth, it is waking people up out of their slumber. Oh, if you had been on that campus and seen the World religions class come out and have a 1 hour discussion where the Gospel was clearly presented because many people were drawn by that sign and it brought about vibrant discussion. They were warned that these attitudes and actions had consequences. Some of the most fascinating conversations took place. We had some professing ‘christian’ sex freaks, who were not ashamed, and they claimed that they could fornmicate and continue in that lifestyle and God would forgive them! We had professing christian lesbians, porn addicts and drunkards who had the same 1 John 1:9 justification, that they could live in sin and 1 John 1:9 was their get out of jail free card. I did the same thing before I was saved, and it was a loving brother like you, Jerry, who let me know that my sin was wicked and an affront to God, but that Christ died to save us from our sin. That is love, true love. And that is the gospel that I was saved with, and that is the Gospel I proclaim. I am the most wicked of sinners, but Christ came to save even me.
But something else happened as well: Just as we prayed, revival broke out. There were Christians on that campus who came to us afterwards to pray with us and to confess that they had been living in sin, and that this shook them out of their slumber. On every campus I travelled on with this sigh, a small group of believers came out and desired prayer, and desired to live a more holy and separated life. I say that is love. It is love to tell people the truth, to warn them, to shake them out of their slumber as necessary. We get multiple e-mails, phone calls, letters sharing the fact that our appearance on campus- with signs and without-shook them out of their slumber. Here is just one of them:
I just wanted to write you and kind of say thank you in a way. I am a born again believer too.. and the last six months or so I drifted away from God and His ways.I feel like this was God at work in my life. When I got into the conversation with you at first I was defensive and wanted to argue with you, but as soon as I heard what you were saying I agree with what you were saying. The feeling I got from listening to you was warmth, I felt like I was back in My Fathers arms again. I just wanted to thank you for relighting that fire inside of me. I may not agree with your approach of sharing the gospel, but you are speaking truth, which is great! I have been praying for you through out the day and the students that you got a chance to talk to. I pray that God will give you the words and wisdom, and that the students would have an open heart to what God wants them to hear. Thanks so much!! I just want this email to be an encouraging email and an email that glorifies God!!! God bless.
Jerry, I am a Christian who loves the Lord first and I love people. I am accountable to my Lord, my Family, my Church/Elders, and my brothers and sisters in Christ, in about that order. The Lord knows my heart, I do what I do in hopes of glorifying Him and bringing as many people to a knowledge of the truth as possible. The way I do it changes depending on whom I am speaking to, as the Spirit leads. I know that you do as well. Thank you for the open rebuke, if only to remind me that as Christians we always need to do everything for our Lord Jesus out of a love for Him primarily and for people that He came to save.